New Year present for Saatchi as it lands Lenovo computers

The Consumer Electronics Show currently grinding on in Las Vegas also saw the final round pitches for a new global branding campaign for Chinese computer maker Lenovo in which Saatchi & Saatchi beat incumbent Ogilvy & Mather and hot hotshop Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

O&M has handled Lenovo since it bought IBM’s personal computer business in 2005. Here’s Ad Age’s report.

After a final-round pitch that included presentations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, Lenovo has chosen a new global agency partner, Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi.

Lenovo debuted the ‘Le Pad’ slate at CES last week.

According to executives familiar with the situation, the shop beat out stiff competition from MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter & Bogusky and WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather, which has handled Lenovo’s line of “Think”-branded products since the computer maker purchased IBM’s PC division in 2005.
Agencies referred calls to Lenovo, which confirmed Saatchi’s appointment to the roster, while also noting that it doesn’t mean a parting of ways for Ogilvy. “We selected Saatchi & Saatchi to develop a new branding campaign for us, and this is an additional piece of business for us,” a spokesman told Ad Age. “Our existing agency relationship with Ogilvy will continue as is.”

Still, that Lenovo is seeking some fresh brand thinking isn’t surprising considering it has raised the curtain on several new products at CES. Among them, the new “Le Pad” slate, which weighs less than 2 pounds and comes in a variety of colors for about $520 a pop, retailing in China initially. Lenovo also announced thinner and slimmer versions of its ThinkPad laptops and IdeaPad series of netbooks.

The new global branding campaign will be led out of Saatchi’s New York office, which is probably hoping the win marks the start of a busier year on the new-business front than the one it saw in 2010. It’s also the first win under Chief Creative Officer Con Williamson, who jumped to Saatchi from Havas’ Euro RSCG, New York, replacing Gerry Graf.

While the company is a major global player, U.S. spending on the account has plummeted in recent times. According to Kantar Media, Lenovo in 2009 spent a little more than $30 million on domestic measured media, with the majority of it backing the marketing of its ThinkPad line. But between January and October 2010, that figure has dropped to less than $5 million.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the way Lenovo is following in the footsteps of other big advertisers including rival Sony in maintaining that the incumbent agency in a losing pitch hasn’t been dumped (and is therefore available to work on further Lenovo assignments if needed).

This could just be to save the agency’s face of course or mean that the client is having it both ways. But what if another PC manufacturer approached O&M?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.